Special Collections and Archives blog

May 9, 2022
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on An interview with Mike DeHoff of the Returning Rapids Project

An interview with Mike DeHoff of the Returning Rapids Project

In the spring of 2020, SCA received a call from Mike Dehoff who modestly called himself a member of a “group of non-academic people following a curiosity.”  As a river runner and Moab business owner, Mike was in the process of forming a group that aspired to partner with non-profits to investigate rapids that were re- emerging in the Colorado River due to the mega drought.  Mike had discovered some Kolb film reels in our digital collections that might be useful for comparing with rapids that were beginning to re-emerge.  Since that first contact in 2020, Mike’s endeavor has grown from a passion project into the formal Returning Rapids Project.  He was generous enough to take the time to answer some questions we had about this incredible work and how it all came together.

How did the Returning Rapids Project get started?

In the early part of the 2000s there was a very, very dry year – even by today’s standards. The winter of 2001/2002 produced a snowpack that was roughly 30-35% of normal. For many people who were running the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon, it was hard not to notice the drastic change as the reservoir known as lake Powell receded. Over the next 4 years it dropped 150 feet.

Cataract Canyon river maps published during the 1990s had zones marked as “Areas Inundated by Lake Powell.” When the reservoir started to drop, it was easy to get curious and wonder what was there before the reservoir flooded the lower half of Cataract Canyon.

Over the latter part of the 2000s and into the early 2010s, rapids started re-appearing along the river in areas that used to be still water, in the reservoir zone. These rapids were being carved out of the giant layer of mud, of river sediment that the reservoir caused to be dropped out in Cataract Canyon – burying the rapids and river corridor.

During this time, there was a lot of conversation among my friends about what was happening in lower Cataract Canyon, including my good friend Steve “T-Berry” Young, who was the head river ranger for Canyonlands at the time. We would wonder why there wasn’t a specific effort to study the changes in this area. Especially since the river corridor was slowly revealing more and more as the mud was carved away.

In the mid-2010s, I went to a river running event at the John Wesley Powell Museum in Green River, Utah. There was a geologist giving a talk about Colorado Plateau geology. At the end of his talk, he invited questions. I raised my hand and asked something like, “We are seeing rapids get carved out of the mud in lower Cataract Canyon that haven’t been seen since they were flooded. Do you know how many rapids there were and how many we can expect to see again?”

The geologist said one or two sentences about the lower part of the Grand Canyon and how it is dealing with the inundation of Lake Mead, then went back to discussing the various layers in Grand Canyon. I remember thinking “Huh, you didn’t even try to answer my question.”

About this time, my girlfriend Meg Flynn, got a job at the local Grand County Public Library here in Moab, Utah. On a trip through Cataract, she and I talked a lot about what materials might be available to help discover how many rapids were in Cataract Canyon. That trip was in 2013. We were camped at Clearwater Canyon (photo attached) – a very special place that has been drastically impacted by lake Powell. (and as an editorial note – its not a real Lake so it doesn’t get a capital L.)

After that trip, Meg helped me find an old guidebook – the 1971 Powell Society Guide “River Runners Guide to The Canyons of the Green and Colorado Rivers.” It was published while the reservoir was filling and had a great amount of detail regarding how many rapids were in Cataract Canyon and where they were located.

It wasn’t long after that, I created a spreadsheet to track where the rapids were – and more importantly what elevations I thought they were at. The level of lake Powell is measured in elevation. The more the elevation dropped, the more it exposed the sediment beds, which allowed the river to carve away mud and expose old rapids.

This spreadsheet grew to the point that I started sharing it with the folks at the Canyonlands National Park Reservation office.They were the ones issuing permits for Cataract Canyon and were trying to advise visitors what to expect regarding the changing reservoir levels.

Then 3 key things happened, Meg and I got married and she started a program to get her Master’s degree in Library Science. I switched my side hustle as a river equipment Welder/Fabricator to a full-time job and opened up the Eddyline Welding shop in Moab. And I met Peter Lefebrve.

Peter has been a long-time river guide, running rivers all around the Colorado Plateau. He would come by my shop and we would chat about river running. We soon discovered that we shared an interest in watching the changes in lower Cataract Canyon. He regularly took pictures at the mouths of the side canyons to try to document the changes he was observing.

Camping near Clearwater Canyon in 2013

As Meg worked her way through her Master’s program, she gained a much better understanding of how to navigate archives and special collections to pursue research questions. It was through her growing knowledge that I learned about really great collections of photos, maps, and other written materials that were housed in various places – like the Cline Library’s Special Collections.

Peter would come by the shop between his river trips and we would compare notes about the changes we were seeing in Cataract. At home, during times when Meg was diligently completing her MLS program work, I would search through the various archives that housed photos of Cataract Canyon.

During this time there were a few other key people who also helped spring the project forward. Bego Gerhart helped with early efforts. John Weisheit with Living Rivers shared a private collection of George Simmons maps and photos, and Robert Tubbs shared his Cataract scroll map made by Les Jones in 1963. The map was a great resource for finding where rapids were and their historic elevations.

This takes us up to 2017-2018. In these years we were compiling a lot of historic photos. They were housed in a binder which we began loaning to people to take on river trips.

Sheet M George Simmons Notes map cropped for Gypsum Canyon area detail

Peter had been watching some rocks that were just upstream of a large side canyon called Gypsum Canyon. Gypsum Canyon had a rapid at its mouth that was reputed to be a fierce one prior to the reservoir. We became keenly interested in Gypsum Canyon Rapid as we thought it might be close to returning.

It was during this time that a key photo from the Cline Library Kolb Brothers collection came into play. The rocks that Peter had been watching just upstream of Gypsum Canyon matched up perfectly with a randomly taken photo that we had. This was a very big “A-HA” moment. The rocks were still all in the same place, the rapid was returning and had a very similar layout.

2019 Match of EC La Rue photo – Peter Lefebvre

During the summer of 2018, I had an odd project in the Eddyline Welding shop that involved outfitting a roto molded plastic drift boat into something liked a decked over dory. The boat was to be used on a Green River source to sea trip by a staff member from the American Rivers organization. This person, Mike Fiebig, was taking a sabbatical from his position working to protect rivers in Montana. Mike and his wife Jenny were going to use the dory on most of their trip. They asked if Meg and I wanted to join them on the Cataract Canyon stretch of their expedition.

On Mike and Jenny Fiebig’s trip through Cataract, we met a lot of folks. One of them was Seth Arens who works for Western Water Assessment and is housed by the Center for Global Change and Sustainability at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. After showing everyone our material on the Fiebig trip, Seth Arens proposed that we convene a broad coalition of university staff and potentially students to look at the changes we were trying to document.

In 2019, the project really started to take off. We published our first “Field Binder” which was an 80-page pamphlet that helped people running through Cataract Canyon understand what was and is happening. That fall the first science trip was put together by Seth Arens and the Center for Global Change and Sustainability. It was a collaborative trip with many University of Utah Faculty and Utah Water Science Center USGS staffers.

Mike and Jenny Fiebig and their roto modeled dory in Big Drop 3 – Bego Gerhart

On the first fall science trip, we had another A-Ha moment. Not so much for Peter and I, but we were able to watch all these highly educated experts in their fields wrap their minds around what we were seeing. It was also on this trip that we met another key player in the Returning Rapids partnership – Scott Hynek from the Utah Water Science Center.

The connection with Scott was important in a few ways. First, Scott brought an unassuming attitude with him. It is important to understand that up to this point Peter and myself had endured a lot of “Who are you guys with again?” “You’re are trying to do what?” and “What agency are you with?” … None of that came from Scott (and may other parties on the first science trip). But Scott and his research team had also been working on many lake Powell related tasks – the main one being the growing sediment delta. They were charged with answering the question: “If the reservoir is 30-ish % full, how much of that is sediment?”

It was on the 2019 trip that another key thing changed while talking with one of the USGS scientists. Prior to the trip, people just called the banks of sediment along the river the “lake Powell Formation” or just “the mud.” David O’Leary of the USGS raised a protest to the terminology by saying – “John Wesley Powell’s name has been insulted enough by this reservoir being named after him – this mud shouldn’t be named after him also.” And in that moment, someone on the trip said, “Then maybe it should be called the ‘Dominy’ Formation” (Floyd Dominy was the head of the Bureau of Reclamation and championed the building of Glen Canyon Dam) and that name stuck.

It was that winter that I arranged a meeting with Eric Balken who is the Executive Director of the Glen Canyon Institute (GCI). Meg and I met with Eric and broached the idea of working together – and to be umbrellaed under their 501 c3 non-profit status. Up to that point we had been doing everything out of our own pockets –volunteering our time and spending our own money. Eric and the rest of GCI agreed and we were now able to receive donations to cover our expenses. The Returning Rapids Project is now a project under the Glen Canyon Institute.

Since that first science trip a lot has happened. I will get into that in the following q&a. There is also more material on our website returingrapids.com

Scott Hynek and Chris Wilkoske of the USGS in the front, Peter Lefebvre on the skyline, Susan Bush on the left, Bego behind the tripod, and Mike DeHoff on the right October 2019

What has been the most significant accomplishment of the project thus far?

Three things:

1. Drawing attention to the changes we are seeing in Cataract Canyon. We have had river guides tell us that when they have our field binders with them so their passengers can read them it has “changed their trip.” The way we are communicating what we are seeing is helping people understand and care about a place that many people gave up on once it was drowned under lake Powell.

2. Getting a broad range of scientists to work together on our science trips and overall efforts. It is so great to sit around camp and listen to all the different perspectives, ideas, and discoveries that people share.

3. The “Dominy Formation” name. It has stuck and is well deserved.

What one or two aspects of the project would you like everyone to know about?

Recently, a person who is director level position for a national river advocacy agency said to me, “I finally get it! For so many things “Colorado River” the Grand Canyon sucks all the air out of the room.” That keeps resonating with me. The Grand Canyon is an important and beautiful place but so is Cataract, Glen, and many other places along our beloved river.

If we only focus our attention and stewardship on one place, then it is easy to lever other places out of favor… and make it easier to justify things like a big Dam project.

The consequences from this line of thinking continue to have an impact. A simple example: I spoke with someone who was a National Park Service photographer in the 1990s and 2000s and asked if they had any pictures of the areas where we are now seeing so much change. Their answer, “You know, while I don’t want to admit it, after watching the river turn into the reservoir, I just set my camera down. I didn’t take pictures because it wasn’t a river anymore.”

What I would like everyone to know, and it seems so true in the face of climate change now, is that we all have to pay attention and leave room for/ not give up hope that the world’s natural forces can make big advances towards restoring themselves from the impacts of our cultural manifest destiny. We just have to give it a chance. And where we can, we should make it a conscious effort.

The other thing I would like everyone to know, is it sure seems to me that what we have going on regarding our water storage and delivery system isn’t working. If you go back and read the book “Encounters with the Archdruid” on the pages where Floyd Dominy is debating David Brower from the Sierra Club, Dominy admits that in the future we will find better ways to deal with water in the southwest. That was 60 years ago… and it sure seems to me like we need to do some re-thinking.

What role have libraries and archives played in the development of the Returning Rapids Project and the final products of the project?

Libraries and librarians tend to be the unsung heroes of information organization and underpinning of so many research projects.
What would Google be if it wasn’t modeled after an incredibly effective librarian?

I suppose with those two initial statements, I have showed my hand. There is no way we would have the level of understanding of the arc of change in Cataract Canyon without photos that someone took care to identify and archive thanks to valuing the preservation of information so it someone can reference it in the near or distant future.

Having access to the information – photos, maps, narratives contained in archives has served as a trail of breadcrumbs and treasure maps to help unwind our curiosities.

That we have an incredibly skilled librarian as a core member of our team has been an invaluable asset when navigating search results, investigating new threads, and tracking all the metadata. It has been foundational to us finding our way and being able to retrace our steps through the vast amount of information housed online.

Also, as our photo archive grows, Meg has been essential for helping to organize our information.

Photos on a beach during pandemic times – Paul Richer, Oct 2020 Science Trip

How did you discover the resources at Cline Library Special Collections and Archives that are supporting your project?

The Cline Library Special Collections contains one of the biggest archives of info about the Colorado River and its history.

Initially, search results just pop up and take you into the Cline’s digitized materials. But the layout of the site allows you to search all the different angles that may yield more info.

We specifically found the Kolb brothers collection very helpful. Their 1911 trip and then the 1921 USGS survey trip that they were a part of did a great job of documenting the areas they traveled through.

We are working on a big re-edit of the Kolb Brothers Film Reels. The reels that they showed in their South Rim of the Grand Canyon studio tend to have a lot of footage from the 1921 USGS survey trip through Cataract Canyon. Using all the other photos in our project archive, we were able to further identify reel shots by location. Currently, we are working on re-editing the reels in an upstream to downstream fashion. It will let us see a run through Cataract Canyon as the Kolbs were able to capture it. This includes footage of many rapids that were buried under the waters of lake Powell.

Additionally, in September 2021, we were able to do a 100 years later photo recreation trip with many of the photos from the 1921 USGS trip. Peter and Cindy at Special Collections were very helpful in getting us materials to make this happen. You can see the trip report from this trip: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1sXKEAC8m_Y1lvnm9cUp34HoVufhYFRDe/view

Photo match 1921-2021 near Palmer Canyon

What do you see as the future for the Returning Rapids project?

We like to summarize our project with, “we go boating, take pictures, and tell the story of the changes we are seeing.”

The project is growing through the numbers of people who want to see the results of our research and the story of changes along the river.

Some of the scientists we collaborate with are delving into much deeper levels of research. There have been several attempts to be funded by the National Science Foundation.
In an ideal world, maybe an effort similar to the Grand Canyon Research and Monitoring Center could be formed.

If we can tell a large number of people the story of the changes we are seeing in a simple manner, maybe it can affect our relation with the Colorado River.

Looking down on Rapid # 28, a returned rapid, Mike Fiebig

What future do you see for the greater Glen Canyon area in the 10-20 years?

I think there is a simple fact we need to face. There isn’t enough water in the Colorado River system to keep 2 large reservoirs full. Also, this method of water storage isn’t the most effective means to store and deliver water to users. And it isn’t a healthy way to maintain some semblance of the ecosystem that the Colorado once was.

When people who understand water law start explaining to me all the different aspects regarding who gets what and why, I come back to a simple thought, “This is one of the most convoluted expressions of greed that there is in modern society.”

So, when you put those 2 things together – not enough water and a convoluted expression of greed, it leaves me feeling very uncertain about a clear future for Glen Canyon. When I am sitting next to the river in a place that is so quickly showing signs of recovery, I can’t help but think that the natural world will force its hand before our governmental dysfunctions can find a good solution.

I think the most practical solution is to put whatever water there is in lake Powell into lake Mead – that would be the lower basin’s storage pool. For the upper basin states, it just doesn’t make sense to have a reservoir right on the tail end of the “upper” basin – its dumb. Why not keep all the high elevation reservoirs as full as possible and just get rid of Powell entirely?

lake Powell water levels over 2017 – present http://graphs.water-data.com/lakepowell/

What has been your most unexpected discovery thus far?

There have been unexpected discoveries each year.

We found ancient structures half buried in mud and petroglyph panels that were once under reservoir waters.

Last fall we discovered bedrock strata emerging out of the mud near the North Wash take out – which means that we could see rapid or waterfall similar to the ones at Piute Farms in the San Juan and Pearce Ferry just downstream from the Grand Wash Cliffs.

But the 2 biggest discoveries that I am so surprised about are:

During the planning stage of the Dam and potential reservoir, I am amazed at how little was known about the areas the project was going to effect. When I read through old reports, some are outright apologetic about how they couldn’t survey everything. Additionally, all the survey information was never compiled into one singular document to fully inform the decision and address the true cost of the project.

Right now, the biggest discovery for me is not an easy one. Anyone who knows the Colorado in its true form knows how much mud the river moves. All that mud settles out of the river and into the reservoir. It is what has buried the rapids in Cataract Canyon. As the reservoir level declines, the muddy sediment delta continues to grow and is now moving.

I think of it like this – in the 1960s/1970s Glen and Cataract Canyons were flooded by water. Now we are watching a giant mud glacier that formed in Cataract slowly creep and grow as it moves into Glen Canyon.
I have had a chance to meet several state and federal government officials and ask them “Who is in charge of the mud?” So far, I have not received an answer that gives me any faith that what is now 2.25 cubic kilometers of mud (and growing) will be purposely managed by any government agency.

If so many states in the southwest United States claim a percentage of the Colorado River’s water, they should also take responsibility for their percentage of the byproduct, the mud. There are currently no efforts to do so – it’s just a by-product that is piling up in a place with National Park level characteristics.

Meg Flynn, Librarian Extraordinaire! and the sediment delta near White Canyon, 2021

May 3, 2022
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Comments Off on Special Collections and Archives – Closing Early on Wednesday, May 4 at 3:00pm for the Golden Graduates Reception

Special Collections and Archives – Closing Early on Wednesday, May 4 at 3:00pm for the Golden Graduates Reception

The 1965 Golden Graduates on the Steps of Old Main, May 9, 2015. Photo courtesy of David Slipher, Alumni Relations.

Special Collections and Archives will be closing early on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 at 3:00pm to host the Golden Graduates reception. The Golden Graduates are the President’s guests of honor for the spring commencement exercises. The Golden Graduates graduated from NAU 50 years ago. This will be the first in-person Golden Graduate reception since the pandemic. Therefore, the President has invited graduates from the classes of 1970, 1971, and 1972. This is an invitation only event.

Special Collections and Archives will resume its regular hours on Thursday, May 5, 2022.

March 24, 2022
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Comments Off on Update from the Archives

Update from the Archives

This month we celebrate two SCA team members for being honored with 2021 Service Awards from the Arizona Library Association.

Rich Boyd. AZLA 2021 Volunteer of the Year Award recipient.

In a future update we will learn about the projects Rich has been a part of over his many years of volunteering in Special Collections and Archives.  This time, however, we asked Sam Meier, Archivist for Discovery in SCA to tell us about an exciting collaboration she has been a part of this semester with Dr. Keleman Saxena.  Below is her response.

Sam Meier, Archivist for Discovery. AZLA 2021 Emerging Leader Award recipient.

Those who seldom journey to the archives tend to assume that Cline Library’s Special Collections and Archives (SCA) is full of dusty boxes of old documents and the old-school historians and genealogists who pore over them. In truth, researchers consult SCA’s archival collections for all kinds of projects, from searching for original footage to use in their documentary film to determining what kind of window to utilize as a replacement for a historically significant property. 

Over the years, SCA has supported several scientific projects, including a 2014 partnership with the Southwest Experimental Garden Array (SEGA) using historic photographs and repeat photography to examine changes to plant life over time. This spring, I am delighted to support one of NAU’s first McAllister Climate Education, Engagement, and Design (CEED) Fellows, Dr. Alder Keleman Saxena, in a course which enables students to explore the environmental effects of human-built infrastructure on the Colorado Plateau using digitized archival materials available online via the Colorado Plateau Digital Collections.

Dr. Keleman Saxena and I began brainstorming the class that would become ANT 499: Climate Change and Infrastructure on the Colorado Plateau in fall 2019. We first met at the NAU New Faculty Orientation. She was new to Flagstaff, and she had recently completed her work on the digital humanities project Feral Atlas: The More-Than-Human Anthropocene with colleagues at Stanford University. As a born-and-raised Flagstaffian, the only thing I love more than sharing my hometown with new friends is talking about the amazing archival resources that we hold in Special Collections and Archives, which document the history of the place I have always considered home. Over mugs of coffee at Macy’s, we discussed the possibility of collaborating on a future class which addressed our mutual interest in humanistic explorations of climate change.

A whole pandemic year later, Dr. Keleman Saxena reached out to me again to see if I was still interested in her proposed course. I was. Together, we crafted a proposal for the McAllister Fellowship which proved to be successful. Dr. Keleman Saxena was awarded one of NAU’s first two McAllister CEED Fellowships in May 2021.

This spring, we have collaborated closely on designing the course and its final assignment, which will be digital projects built in Omeka examining different types of human-built infrastructure on the Plateau, such as roads and dams, and their relationships(s) to climate change. Through lectures and weekly assignments, students in the course have begun to acquire basic archival literacy skills such as how to search for and identify relevant primary source materials using Arizona Archives Online and the Colorado Plateau Digital Collections. I have supported the students in learning how to properly handle and consult archival materials on site in the Miriam Lemont Reading Room. 

As the semester continues, the students will gain experience interpreting these physical and digitized historical materials within the framework of a ‘feral entity’: an event, process, or entity which emerges from “human-sponsored projects but are not in human control.” This work strengthens students’ research skills and hones their ability to critically analyze historic and contemporary aspects of the landscapes they encounter each day living, studying, and working in Flagstaff.

So far, topics identified by the students as possible themes for their final digital projects include:

  • The construction of Glen Canyon Dam, the creation of Lake Powell, and their impacts on the Colorado River;
  • The construction and maintenance of roads, particularly forest roads and roads built on tribal lands;
  • The development of and subsequent legal battles over Snow Bowl ski resort;

Students have consulted and are continuing to study physical materials as well as digitized and born-digital materials from archival collections including the Katie Lee collection, the Fire on the Plateau collection (and related exhibit website), the Steve Dudley collection, the Grand Canyon River Guides collection, the Richard and Jean Wilson collection, the Arizona Trail Association records, and many more. We’re excited to see what they come up with for their final projects!

December 30, 2021
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Comments Off on Old Rock Day

Old Rock Day

January 7th has been designated “Old Rock Day.”  A day to celebrate geology, fossils and geologists around the world.  We would like to honor two of our favorite ‘rock stars,” Peter Huntoon and George Billingsley who both have collections housed in Cline Library’s Special Collections and Archives.   As graduate students in 1970, these two giants of geology came together with six other geologists to complete an assignment funded by the Museum of Northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon Natural History Association and the Grand Canyon National Park to create the first complete geological map of the eastern portion of the Grand Canyon, known today as the “Blue Dragon.”  This enormous undertaking took 4.5 years of fieldwork and 1.5 years of production time which led to the highest selling edition of any map in history with all proceeds from it and the 3 subsequent editions going to the Museum of Northern Arizona and the Grand Canyon Natural History Association.

The Blue Dragon Map

To learn more about the story of how the numerous geologists and organizations came together to complete this enormous project, take a look at the lecture, The Making of the Blue Dragon given by Peter Huntoon and George Billingsley as part of the Grand Canyon National Park, Centennial Perspectives lecture series in June of 2019.

The 2019 lecture announcement

After completing the map of eastern portion of the Grand Canyon, there was still more work to do for these two ambitious scientists. Next, they completed mapping of the west half of the Grand Canyon  and were later contracted to produce geological maps of Canyonlands and Capital Reef National Parks in Utah.

The Finns in Canyonlands National Park
NAU.PH.2003.11.68.M5528

George later made it his mission to map the surrounding areas outside of the Grand Canyon. Digital versions of trip logs, fieldnotes, photographs and oral histories about his work and life can be found here in SCA’s digital collections or you can view the finding guide for The George Billingsley papers  to see the collection holdings (digitized and non-digitized material).   Throughout his career with the United States Geologic Survey, George published 77 maps, multiple articles, a book, and helped train the crew of the Apollo 16 space crew.

Two USGS geologists in space suits conduct a simulated lunar surface mission at the Cinder Lake crater field east of Flagstaff NAU.PH.426.467

Peter Huntoon’s collection  includes documents from his professional activities and research involved in mapping numerous areas of the Colorado Plateau, such as  geological research files, a research library, aerial and non-aerial photographs, and draft and published maps.

As we celebrate “Old Rock” day, we celebrate the accomplishments and the contributions of two of our favorite “old rock” researchers.

December 30, 2021
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on The Protocols for Native American Archival Materials

The Protocols for Native American Archival Materials

Did you know that the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials were drafted right here at Cline Library?

This Native American Heritage Month we would like to highlight some of the important work that we have been doing to implement the Protocols, as well as the work we have been doing to share our experience and lessons learned with others in the profession.

In April 2006, Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, Arizona hosted a gathering of Native American and non-Native American cultural heritage professionals who together drafted the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials, a professional best practices document which outlined guidelines for culturally responsive care of Native American archival materials held by non-tribal institutions. NAU’s Cline Library and Special Collections and Archives formally endorsed the Protocols in 2006. Since then, the staff members of Cline Library Special Collections and Archives (SCA) have sought to integrate the guidance put forth by the Protocols into all aspects of their work, including collection development, collections management, and archival arrangement and description.

In 2019, SCA’s newly hired Archivist for Discovery, Sam(antha) Meier, began revising the department’s draft Arrangement and Description Policy to address issues common to academic archives and special collections, such as an extensive and growing backlog of unprocessed materials and outdated and inaccurate legacy description. Supported by colleagues at Arizona State University, she began to explore the possibility of using ArchivesSpace to more rapidly gain collection-level control over new acquisitions, update existing legacy finding aids, and transition the department’s EAD finding aids hosted in Arizona Archives Online from EAD 2002 to EAD3. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Meier collaborated with Library Assistant Manager Cindy Summers to begin a holistic review of SCA’s legacy finding aids to prepare for their eventual ingest into ArchivesSpace for revision and correction. Meier and Summers found ways to continue this critical work remotely, as neither were initially working in Cline Library.

Cognizant of the need to implement the Protocols at every step in archival processing, including re-description, re-arrangement, and re-processing, in the winter of 2020 Meier and Summers developed a fully remote paid graduate internship, the Archival Description Internship, intended to support an MLIS student at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. The internship was designed to function as a “pilot project” for the department, allowing Meier and Summers to explore how to apply the Protocols to their legacy finding aids along with intern Liz Garcia.

In April, 2021 Sam, Cindy and Liz presented an ArchivesSpace webinar reflecting on their experiences early in this multi-year project.  Below are links to the webinar and to the slides that were presented.

Using ArchivesSpace  to apply the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials

Slides from the webinar

This September the project was featured in a blogpost series presented by the Description Section of the Society of American Archivists.  Below is a link to it:

Leaving Legacies: Re-mote Re-Description at Cline Library’s Special Collections and Archives

Our work will continue and we plan to provide periodic updates, right here.  So, stay tuned.

September 21, 2021
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Comments Off on What’s new in SCA? A LOT!

What’s new in SCA? A LOT!

Back in April, 2021 the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced 225 award recipients who will be receiving $24 million in funding this grant cycle.  NAU’s Cline Library Special Collections and Archives was honored to be one of those recipients.  We will receive $350,000 over a three-year period to digitize 400 rare and aging films; ours and others belonging to our cultural heritage partners, the Hopi Tribe, the Hualapai Tribe, and Diné College on the Navajo Nation.  These films will give us a glimpse of life in the American southwest of the Colorado Plateau in from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Our work began by ordering the technology that will be used to create the digital conversions and posting positions for a student intern and a project archivist.  The project archivist hiring committee is diligently reviewing applications and preparing to interview candidates, the student intern, Olivia “Liv” Hall has been hired and is beginning to learn about the NAU films that will be converted and the people who created them.  For this installment of our periodic NEH grant films project update, we’d like to introduce you to Liv.

Liv in the vault
Liv looking at films in the vault

Liv is a freshman at NAU who aspires to teach secondary history education.  She’s known from a young age that she would one day be a teacher, but the level changed each year as her own grade level changed.  It wasn’t until she began taking history classes and was taught by some incredible history teachers that she fell in love with history and her plans began to fall into place.  Seeing her promise, archivist, Sean Evans has already forewarned her that he will spend the next three years trying to recruit her to the archival profession.

Liv chose to attend NAU for several reasons, some of them practical, some of them financial and some were just a reaction to the beauty of the region.  She knew she would be attending one of the three state institutions, and with NAU’s education program, along with the Lumberjack scholarship, it took just one November visit for her to decide that NAU “was the best in-state environment,” for her.

Liv working

The grant project student intern posting caught her eye because Liv thought she could learn a lot that she could bring with her to the classroom.  She also liked the idea of returning history to the tribes by preserving their old and fragile films, as well as making them available for educational purposes.

When asked what one thing might surprise people about her, Liv pulled out her backpack to reveal an adorable embroidered image from The Little Prince.  

Liv's backpack
The Little Prince embroidery

She’s also embroidered Frog and Toad which was included on the Frog and Toad Instagram account and she was even asked to make another for one of the followers.

Frog and Toad embroidery
Frog and Toad embroidery

Unfortunately, Liv couldn’t break SCA’s “team cat” or “team dog” tie because although she’s had dogs in the past, she really wants a cat (a “nice cat”).  It’s likely that Sean will be trying to recruit her on this matter as well.

Stay tuned for future updates about this grant project and one called Shades of Route 66, generously funded by an Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona grant.  We’ll introduce new student interns and a project archivist. Also coming up in SCA are meetings of the Havasupai Tribal Council (Sept.) and the Hopi Cultural Preservation Council (Oct.).

August 16, 2021
by special collections & archives
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SCA to close early on August 17, 2021

It’s been great seeing so many friendly faces in our reading room. We want everyone to be aware that we will close at 2:00 pm on Tuesday, August 17th for a special event. Regular hours of Monday -Thursday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Fridays 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. will return on Wednesday, August 18th.

August 6, 2021
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on An Athlete to Remember

An Athlete to Remember

In the spirit of the summer Olympics and the many runners who have trained here in Flagstaff, we bring you the story that mingles, an ultra-runner before there were ultra-races, America’s Mother Road (Route 66), intrigue, heartbreak, along with some very talented Native American athletes.

It all begins with America’s First Annual Transcontinental Footrace organized by the country’s first sports agent, Charles Pyle in 1928 and dubbed the “Bunion Derby” by the press.  The race began in Los Angeles, California and followed Route 66 through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma, then crossing the Mississippi River and on to Indiana, Ohio, into Pennsylvania and down Route17 to New Jersey, finally reaching the finish line in New York City for a total of approximately 3,400 miles.

For a twenty year old, part-Cherokee Indian runner named Andy Payne, it was the chance to pay off the family farm back in Oklahoma and to make a name for himself.  He turned to the chamber of commerce in his hometown of Claremore, Oklahoma for financial backing and despite skepticism was given a donation of $75.  Andy’s father borrowed additional funds to pay for the entry fee along with money for shoes and a trainer.

On March 4, 1928, with representation from all over the world, 276 runners and walkers gathered at the starting line.  Hopi runner and Arizona native, Nickolas Quomawahu was also hoping to finish.  After the first day 77 runners had dropped out due to injuries and exhaustion.  So many of those who bowed out suffered from callouses and blisters that the race got its nickname of “The Bunion Derby.”  By the time they reached Flagstaff, Quomawahu was left with an ankle injury that ended the race for him.   Only 102 racers left from Flagstaff with Andy Payne continuing despite a case of tonsillitis

Runner #43 (Andy Payne) near Flagstaff Arizona, during C.C. Pyle’s 1928 Trans-Continental Foot Race Highway run along U.S. Route 66. NAU.PH.83.2.58 from the Pulliam Family Collection

Runners continued to drop out as they moved through New Mexico and into Texas.  In his home state of Oklahoma, Andy was greeted to a hero’s welcome by residents and the state’s governor.

Through the remaining states, runners continued to drop out, some of them struck by vehicles or motorcycles.  On the last day of the race only 55 runners remained.  Andy crossed the finish line in first place on May 26, 1928, covering 3,422.3 miles in a little more than 573 hours and earning him the first place prize of $25,000.  Following his win, he was married and settled down in his home state where he served as a clerk to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma and died in 1977.  Every year Oklahoma City holds the Andy Payne Bunion Run, a marathon to honor their home state hero.  A bronze statue of Andy stands along Route 66 in Foyil, Oklahoma, where our Own Sean Evans and his wife took this photograph.

Statue erected in honor of Andy Payne, winner of the so-called “Bunion Derby” footrace across Route 66 and to New York in 1928, Foyil, Oklahoma. NAU.PH.2004.11.4.199, The R. Sean Evans Papers

In 1929, Pyle tried to recreate the race.  This time runners would leave from the East Coast and Arrive in the West.  The race was not financially successful , leaving the winner, John Salo with no prize money.

Books About the Great Bunion Derby

For more interesting facts about the characters that emerged from the Bunion Derby, check out any of the following titles:

C.C. Pyle’s Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America by Geoff Williams,

The Great American Bunion Derby by Molly Levite Griffis

The Great American Foot Race: Ballyhoo for the Bunion Derby by Andrew Speno

The Bunion Derby: The 1928 Footrace Across America by Charles B Kastner

The Bunion Derby, Andy Payne and the Transcontinental Footrace by James Harold Thomas

The 1928 Bunion Derby: a Historical Tour and Driving Guide by Chicago to New York City

Hopi Runners: Crossing the Terrain Between Indian and American by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert with a chapter on Hopi Runner, Nickolas Quomawahu

If you can identify the location of the photo of Andy Payne “near Flagstaff,” please contact SCA. We would love to know more specifically where this photo was taken.

July 22, 2021
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Three-Year NEH Funded Project Archivist Position Announcement

Three-Year NEH Funded Project Archivist Position Announcement

NAU.PH.97.46.50.45
Tad Nichols Filming in the Redwall Cavern in Marble Canyon.
Photo courtesy of NAU Cline Library
Special Collections and Archives
NAU.PH.97.46.50.45

Cline Library Special Collections and Archives is excited to announce the award of a $350,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This transformative grant will allow Cline Library Special Collections and Archives (SCA) to digitize 400 rare and unique moving images documenting the human and natural history of the Colorado Plateau. The moving images are held by SCA and three regional cultural heritage partners: the Hopi Tribe, the Hualapai Tribe, and Diné College on the Navajo Nation. All together, these moving images offer a glimpse into the collective, complex, and nuanced history of the American Southwest as recorded on film.  The grant provides funding to hire a three-year project archivist, working 32 hours a week, to help support this work.

Position Description:

Title: Project Archivist 

Term: 3 years (fall 2021-summer 2024) 

Start Date: August/September 2021 

End Date: June 30, 2024 

Rate of Pay: $18/hour for 32 hours/week or $2,304 monthly  

Position Overview: 

Special Collections and Archives (SCA) at Cline Library organizes, cares for, and provides public access to unique archival material, including historic documents, photographs, sound recordings, films, and born-digital materials. Reporting to the Archivist for Digital Programs and the Archivist for Discovery, the Project Archivist will be responsible for coordinating the digitization of 400 moving images and developing appropriate descriptive metadata for online access via the Colorado Plateau Digital Collections.  

Special Collections and Archives (SCA) values the diversity of the people it hires and serves. Diversity in SCA means fostering a workplace in which individual differences are recognized, appreciated, respected and responded to in ways that fully develop and utilize each person’s talents and strengths. 

Please note: All applicants for the position will be required to work on-site 32 hours a week during SCA’s normal operating hours (8 AM – 5 PM, M-Th, 8 AM – 4 PM F).

Duties and responsibilities: 

Cline Library Special Collections and Archives (SCA) is embarking on a three year digitization project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to convert analog and magnetic media moving images to digital objects and provide online access to those objects using robust, appropriate, culturally responsive, and accurate descriptive metadata. The Cline Library is partnering with three regional Native American communities to digitized moving images from their collections. Under the supervision and guidance from the Archivist for Digital Programs, Archivist for Discovery, and Head of Special Collections and Archives, the Project Archivist will be responsible for the following activities: 

  • Participate in all training related to the conversion technology and equipment, related software, best practices, and workflows for digitizing analog motion picture film and magnetic media. 
  • Understand and adhere to current national standards for the conversion of analog motion picture film and magnetic media.  
  • Use appropriate technology to convert analog motion picture film (R8/S8mm, 16mm, and 35mm) and magnetic media (VHS, Betacam, Betamax, Umatic, DVCam, Hi-8, and ¾” tapes) to digital files. 
  • Gain familiarity with the operation of archival content management systems such as CONTENTdm and ArchivesSpace.  
  • Work closely with Digital Production Specialist to ensure all workflows are followed precisely, all digital files are examined for quality control standards, and the proper transfer of digital surrogates from a local workstation to the library’s cloud-based storage solution.  
  • Participate in all training related to the production and maintenance of descriptive metadata for discovery via the Colorado Plateau Digital Collections and the integration of digitized material into Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aids using ArchivesSpace and oXygen XML Editor.
  • Develop robust and accurate descriptive metadata according to local and national standards (Dublin Core for Moving Images (DCMI), Library of Congress Subject Headings, Visual Resources Association (VRA) Core Categories (for individual records), Art and Architecture Thesaurus, Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS), and Resource Description and Access. 
  • Work closely with Native American colleagues to select, inventory, digitize, develop baseline description, and care for moving images from our tribal partners’ collections. 
  • Become familiar with and apply guidelines based on the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials.  
  • Work closely with tribal partners to identify culturally sensitive content from their collections, as well as culturally sensitive materials from SCA’s holdings Coordinate with appropriate team members and tribal partners to determine appropriate access and use protocols for culturally sensitive materials.   
  • Track and document information to include in reports for the Archivist for Digital Programs, Archivist for Discovery, and the Head of Special Collections and Archives. 
  • Assist Archivist for Digital Programs and Archivist for Discovery in training, supervising, and providing timely feedback for NEH project student assistant.

Qualifications and Requirements: 

  • Master’s degree from an ALA-accredited library or information science program with a concentration in archival studies, or other relevant degree, such as master’s degree in visual communications, public history, etc.
  • Or; a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field (History, Applied Indigenous Studies, Native American Studies, Ethnic Studies, Comparative Cultural Studies, Communication Studies, Journalism, Creative Media or Film, Photography, or similar fields) with 1-2 years experience working in a cultural heritage institution.

Preferred Qualifications: 

  • Familiarity with archival and bibliographic descriptive standards, such as Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS), Encoded Archival Description (EAD), Resource Description and Access (RDA), and Dublin Core Metadata Schema (DCMI). 
  • Experience digitizing analog motion picture film and magnetic media moving image materials. 
  • Familiarity with audio and video moving image material in an archival context  Experience with technology and software associated with the conversion of moving images. 
  • Experience developing appropriate, accurate, and robust descriptive metadata for archival material.
  • Familiarity with the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials
  • Knowledge of the human and natural history of the Colorado Plateau. 
  • Knowledge of filmmaking production practices or other relevant subject expertise. 
  • Familiarity with CONTENTdm, ArchivesSpace, or similar archival content management systems. 
  • Excellent research, writing, and communication skills (both written and verbal). 
  • Detail-oriented and ability to be flexible.
  • Strong organizational skills with demonstrated initiative to complete projects within deadlines. 

Application Deadline: 

The position of Project Archivist will remain open until filled. Review of applications will begin on August 26, 2021. 

To apply, please submit the following documents to: 

  • Letter of application addressing your qualifications for the position 
  • A resume or CV which details relevant coursework, work experience, etc. 
  • Name(s) and contact information for three professional references 
  • Copy of current transcript (optional) 

Submit all application materials to Peter.Runge@nau.edu.

Background Information 

Northern Arizona University requires satisfactory results for the following:  a criminal background investigation, an employment history verification and a degree verification (in some cases) prior to employment.  You may also be required to complete a fingerprint background check. 

Additionally, as an employer in the state of Arizona, NAU is required to participate in the federal E-Verify program that assists employers with verifying new employees’ right to work in the United States. 

Finally, each year Northern Arizona University releases an Annual Security Report. The report is a result of a federal law known as the Clery Act. The report includes Clery reportable crime statistics for the three most recent completed calendar years and discloses procedures, practices and programs NAU uses to keep students and employees safe including how to report crimes or other emergencies occurring on campus. In addition, the Fire Safety Report is combined with the Annual Security Report for the NAU Flagstaff Mountain Campus and NAU-Fort Defiance as these campuses have on-campus student housing. This report discloses fire safety policies and procedures related to on-campus student housing and statistics for fires that occurred in those facilities.  

If you would like a free paper copy of the report, please contact the NAUPD Records Department at (928) 523-8884 or by visiting the department at 525 E. Pine Knoll Drive in Flagstaff. 

Benefits 

NAU is a tobacco and smoke-free campus. 

Employees offered a position will be eligible for state health plans (including NAU’s BCBS Plan).  New employees are eligible for benefits on the first day of the pay period following their enrollment, after their employment date.  Employees will have 31 days from their start date to enroll in benefits. If a new employee chooses the ASRS retirement option, participation in the Arizona State Retirement System, and the long-term disability coverage that accompanies it, will begin on the first of the pay period following 6 months after the new employee’s start date. New employees who choose to participate in the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP), which is an alternative to the ASRS plan for faculty and other appointed staff, will begin to participate on the first day of employment.  Additionally, the long-term disability plan that accompanies the ORP will begin on the first day of employment.  More information is available at the NAU HR benefits page. 

Equal Employment Opportunity 

Northern Arizona University is a committed Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution. Women, minorities, veterans and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. NAU is responsive to the needs of dual career couples. EEO Law Poster. NAU is an Employer of National Service. AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and other National Service alumni are encouraged to apply. 

May 20, 2021
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Great news from the archives!

Great news from the archives!

In Special Collections and Archives we’re excited to share some good news. We’ve lowered our prices for high resolution digital image files and we’ve added a shopping cart feature to make it easier for you to order. Here’s what that means for you. When browsing historic images located in our Digital Collections, if something catches your eye, just add it to your shopping cart. When you’re done browsing, complete your purchase through our online payment system and within 3 business days this could be hanging on your wall:

[Side Canyon] Tad Nichols Collection, NAU.PH.99.3.1.9.17.
Photo courtesy: Tad Nichols, 1956

We have thousands of images to choose from and something for everyone, like this hogan and shade house in Canyon De Chelley, Arizona.

Canyon De Chelley, AZ . The Edward J. Dawson Collection,
NAU.PH.2006.41.3.3. Photo courtesy Edward J. Dawson.

Or this 1924 image of Old Main.

[Old Main and Ashurst Auditorium in the snow.] Northern Arizona University Archives. NAU.ARC.1924.2.2 Photographer unknown.

We even have photos of early “van life.” In the days before Instagram, this camper van was equipped with a dark room for photo processing while roving.

[Parker Hamilton in his camper van], The Parker and Hildegard Hamilton Collection. NAU.PH.2003.17.1.12.52.
Photo Courtesy: Hildegard Hamilton circa 1970

Or finally, for National Bike Month, how about this image of the Coconino Cycle Club circa 1900.

Coconino Cycle Club in front of the Arizona Lumber and Timber Company Commissary. AHS.0025.00017. Photographer unknown.

For more information, visit our Ordering from the Archives page. The options are endless, so take a look at our Digital Collections and see what you can find.